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3D Printer Kit Ordering Woes

3D Printer Kit Ordering Woes

In a week or so, I should be the proud owner of my own RapMan 3.1 Bits From Bytes 3D printer kit. While I am waiting to get started with kit building, I'll bring you up to speed on my buying experience.

I saw Bits From Bytes' BFB 3000, the pre-assembled version that is very similar to the RapMan, at SME's RAPID show. At the booth, I had a good, long discussion with Andy and Tuan about the machines, process, operations, and capabilities. So I was an educated buyer before I went to the company's Website to make a purchase. I found the site a bit confusing, and the order process a bit unsettling.

There is no description of what a RapMan does, how it works, or what it can do (in any detail). All you can discover is that it is a 3D printer that makes plastic parts. If you open the spec sheet for a system, it repeats the bullets on the Web page, and has a table with a few specs such as size, weight, and envelope size. I get that you don't want to tell the consumer how the watch works (just give him the time), but I feel this is too little information.

The lack of information was more unnerving when I tried to figure out what I wanted to buy. Lots of acronyms and abbreviations with no descriptions. I had to piece together what each offered by collecting bits of information from different areas of the site. I even ventured into the wiki and forum to find information. The latter raised more questions than it answered. Even with research, I am not 100 percent sure that I bought everything I need.

What I settled on is: A RapMan 3.1 (DH-NS) kit, and a double head filament starter pack (ABS/PLA).

The DH-NS designation stands for "double head -- no solder." So, I will be able to extrude two materials (e.g., support and part), and I won't have to solder any electrical connections. It comes with a "pre-built hot end," which I learned means I don't have to build the head/extruder; an SD card; and 2 kg of filament. No idea what filament I get (ABS, PLA, or other). To make sure I have plenty of material to play with, I bought the filament starter pack, which gives me an additional 2kg of ABS and 4kg of PLA.

I got a bit of a shock when I clicked on the checkout button. The USD ($) to GBP (₤) exchange rate wasn't in my favor. Total price, including shipping, was $2,478.17.

Checkout wasn't as smooth as I'd liked. The store wouldn't process the order on my American Express card, even though it is shown as an option, and I had plenty of available credit. So I turned to my Visa card. Within moments of clicking "place order," I got a call from Visa's fraud department to confirm that the order was legit. I told them it was, and the Visa rep told me to place the order again since they had cancelled it. Not wanting to receive two kits, I contacted Bits From Bytes. The very nice woman in the UK instructed me to keep the first order, but to make payment with a wire transfer or through PayPal. I chose to pay with PayPal.

I hope that all worked. My online account still says "pending payment." If that status doesn't change by week's end, I will contact the company to get an update. When I get the system and start assembly, I will post my observations.

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